Hoang Thi Ha

Hoang Thi Ha

Senior Fellow and Co-coordinator, Regional Strategic and Political Studies Programme, ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute

Ms Hoang Thi Ha is the lead researcher for political and security affairs at the ASEAN Studies Centre of ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore. Her research interests focus on political-security issues in ASEAN, ASEAN’s external relations and institutional-building within ASEAN. Ms Hoang joined the ASEAN department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam in 2004. She then worked at the ASEAN Secretariat for nine years where her last designation was Assistant Director, Head of the Political Cooperation Division. Ms Hoang holds an MA in International Relations from the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam.

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos (centre) with Vietnam's President Vo Van Thuong (right) at Thang Long Imperial Citadel in Hanoi on 30 January 2024. (Nhac Nguyen/AFP)

Marcos’s visit to Vietnam: When Manila’s pivot meets Hanoi’s pragmatism

Vietnam and the Philippines have agreed to strengthen maritime cooperation in the South China Sea. Digging deeper, however, the two countries are taking distinct approaches in countering the Chinese coercion in the maritime area.
Vietnam's President Vo Van Thuong (in blue tie and spectacles) arrives at Beijing Capital International Airport ahead of the Belt and Road Forum in the Chinese capital on 17 October 2023. (Parker Song/AFP)

Late to the party: Vietnam and the Belt and Road Initiative

Chinese-funded investments into Laos and Cambodia have transformed the geo-economic landscape in Vietnam’s immediate neighbourhood. This has caused Hanoi to give China’s Belt and Road Initiative another look.
US President Joe Biden attends a welcoming ceremony hosted by Vietnam's Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong (2L) at the Presidential Palace of Vietnam in Hanoi on 10 September 2023. (Saul Loeb/AFP)

How Communist Party of Vietnam achieves 'quantum leaps' in Vietnam-US relations

Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong is actively promoting “Vietnamese bamboo diplomacy” as his foreign policy legacy. The concept is not altogether new but it has been riding upon Trong’s political ascendency and Vietnam’s geopolitical fortunes.
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (left) talks to Indonesia's President Joko Widodo (right) prior to a photo session during the 20th ASEAN-India Summit as part of the 43rd ASEAN Summit in Jakarta on 7 September 2023. (Adek Berry/Pool via Reuters)

India’s expanding global influence has limited reach in ASEAN

India is seizing strategic opportunities to emerge as a new global power, but its influence in Southeast Asia is not keenly felt yet. Recent diplomatic accolades that India has achieved with ASEAN, appear to hold more significance in form than in substance. India’s lagging influence in Southeast Asia is also closely associated with its limited economic engagement and protectionist policies towards the region.
A worker adjusts an ASEAN flag at a meeting hall in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 28 October 2021. (Lim Huey Teng/Reuters)

Why is China’s Global Development Initiative well received in Southeast Asia?

Southeast Asian countries appear to have unanimously supported China’s Global Development Initiative in the hope that it will contribute towards addressing their development deficits and that China will up its economic game more broadly in the region. But a closer examination shows that other considerations continue to worry them.
Taiwan's armed forces hold two days of routine drills to show combat readiness ahead of Lunar New Year holidays at a military base in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, 11 January 2023. (Ann Wang/Reuters)

Southeast Asians mull over a Taiwan conflict: Big concerns but limited choices

In the event of hostilities in the Taiwan Strait, Southeast Asian countries will face a difficult dilemma. Their latitude for manoeuvre will be limited, particularly as the Philippines, a key ASEAN member and a US treaty ally, prepares to provide base access to the US in such a contingency.
US President Joe Biden shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping as they meet on the sidelines of the G20 Leaders' Summit in Bali, Indonesia, 14 November 2022. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

A Xi-Biden handshake does not bridge the Sino-US schism, but it's a start

The handshakes and smiles in Bali have triggered some optimism about Sino-US relations going forward. Yet the slight uptick in Sino-US relations post-Bali might well be short-lived, given the superpowers’ underlying structural competition and deep mutual distrust.
A giant stingray caught in the Mekong, June 2022. (Wonders of the Mekong/Facebook)

Can Mekong stingrays tell the Chinese dam story well?

China is crafting “wonderful stories” about its upstream dams in the Mekong. But the overall thrust of the narrative glosses over the more controversial aspects of dam building. The cure to the dying Mekong must begin with clinical analysis and honest exchange among riparian states. ISEAS researcher Hoang Thi Ha says China’s unilaterally imposed narratives are part of the problem, not the remedy.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi gestures upon arriving for an official visit to the Philippines, at Villamor Airbase in Pasay, Metro Manila, on 5 July 2022. (Jam Sta Rosa/AFP)

Will China's 'Asian way' of building peace for Asia work?

China’s “Asian way” is an all-embracing idea and a coded language to discredit other countries’ actions that are deemed harmful to China’s strategic interests. A simple version is: the West seeks to divide through confrontation and exclusion, while the “Asian way” seeks to unite through dialogue and inclusion. ISEAS academic Hoang Thi Ha examines the validity of that narrative.